Saturday, December 22, 2007

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has entered the Catholic Church

Open Book has a roundup of reactions, most focusing on his record on Life Issues as a politician. I like former Anglican, now Catholic priest Fr. Dwight Longenecker's opinion:

"I don't think it's fair to take easy pot shots at Blair because of his previous views on abortion, gay rights etc. We should give everyone the benefit of the doubt and give him a warm welcome. People do change their minds about certain issues, and instead of criticizing we should give converts time and space."

Monday, December 17, 2007

In today's Newsday I was surprised to read two Letters to the Editor referring to a column by Rabbi Marc Gellman on "cafeteria Catholicism". (Rabbi Gellman now writes the God Squad column exclusively due to Msgr. Hartman's Parkinsons, although he has left his friend's name on the byline). The column is here:

God Squad: 'Cafeteria Catholicism' doesn't work

A snip: "Here are the reasons why Cafeteria Catholicism has no future and is a bad idea: First, in the cafeteria, you could leave behind the beliefs you most need to move closer to Christ and to the Church. You've actually done that in your selections. Abortion, for example, which you've left off your plate, is wrong not just because it's condemned by Catholic teachings. It's wrong because it is the taking of a human life, and that life is sacred; its claim trumps even the most agonizing sacrifices of the mother in helping bring a child into the world."

The first letter writer praises the column and notes the irony of someone outside the faith understanding the failings of cafeteria Catholicism better than many within the faith. The second letter is by Deacon Don Zirkel, who seems to totally misunderstand the term "cafeteria Catholic" and proclaims he is one:

"I feel blessed to be a Catholic and to recognize the generous service of many Christians, although I am troubled by some treatment of women and gays, and the attempted cover-up of the sexual abuse crisis."

Deacon Zirkel does not seem to realize the Rabbi was pointing out the folly of picking and choosing teachings, which has nothing to do with failings of individual Church members. The sex abuse crisis for instance can be condemned harshly by Catholics who fully accept the Church's teachings and doctrine. As a member of the clergy, Deacon Zirkel should more carefully read something before responding.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Zenit summarizes the recent Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

'Missionary Mandate of the Church is to Evangelize'

"3. Today there is "a growing confusion" about the Church's missionary mandate. Some think "that any attempt to convince others on religious matters is a limitation of their freedom,"

Anyone who reads books written by Catholic converts or who browses Catholic blogs, has read stories of people asking for help in converting only to be told they can stay in whatever church they are currently attending or being discouraged by misinformation or ignorance, or worse. The 70's and 80's were low points in apologetics and evangelization but many protestants, including many clergy, converted starting in the 80's and have been a notable force in renewing apologetics and evangelization. They are a big influence and inspiration to many cradle Catholics. I recently purchased Nothing But the Truth by Karl Keating and he writes about all of these things. The lack of apologetics and evangelization by Catholics was part of the sad shape of the Church over the past 35 years, although this too has changed for the better recently.

Related: an article in The Long Island Catholic about Evangelization in the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

"The Church also can look at practices like the rosary or eucharistic adoration that seem old to people who grew up a generation or more ago in the Church, Bastien said, but are novel to younger people. “Of course, the way they do it today might be different, not as quiet.”
Smith pointed out that XLT, a form of eucharistic adoration that includes lively music, has a great deal of appeal for teens. “The music is important in a lot of what we do for young people.”